PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST: Warning about Disabled Skepchicks Blog and Call for Help

Hedgehogs, I need your help. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we need our help.

A few days ago, my husband brought to my attention that the popular skeptic blog Skepchick was planning a sister site for disabled people. This was apparently due to a kerfuffle (and from what I can tell, not the first one) over ableist language being used on the site. Excited at the prospect, I applied. Only the find out that the very first conversation in the comments went like this, verbatim:


Hi Sara – what about a parent of one (or more) disabled/autistic children. Can they apply?



Sarah: Hi Nancy! That’s a good question– I’d say apply & we’ll figure it out from there. :)

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to any one of you why this bothered me. But I spoke up, pointing out that autistics absolutely do not care to have parents speaking for us and even linking to the blog for Autistics Speaking Day. 

That post sat in the moderation queue for three days. When it finally appeared, no one responded to it. Not even Sarah, who is supposed to be running this site. I wrote another post, pointing out further why this lack of response was so upsetting. Aside from being accused of things I have not done and still having my concerns completely ignored, still I have not been properly responded to by the person who is supposed to be running the damn blog. Nothing. Not a word. As if my feelings and the feelings of autistics just don’t matter. I have, as you might imagine, withdrawn my application, because who wants to work with someone who doesn’t care enough about your feelings to respond to you?

So this blog is two things. First, it’s a warning. If this blog ever goes live, I caution you all to stay away from it. They haven’t even begun yet and already they’re showing oodles of ignorance when it comes to people with developmental and cognitive abilities and an utter lack of caring for our concerns. It very likely will not be a remotely safe or welcoming place.

The other thing is a call for help. Despite doing things like linking to Autistics Speaking Day, I’m being accused of speaking for all autistics, as if there aren't actuallyhuge amounts of us who have very real issues with parents speaking for us. So I’m asking you, if you have the spoons, to please go there and tell them exactly how you feel about the idea:

This warning and call for help is for every and any person with a cognitive or developmental disability, not just autistics. These people believe they have so much right to disagree with us that they can just ignore what we say.

Well, I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of being treated like I’m so little of a human being that my opinions don’t matter at all. Skepchick is a big enough site to do so much harm to our cause, and I refuse to sit here and let them do it.

I can’t tell you how much pain I’m in right now. I want to crawl in a hole and never stop crying. I want to sit on an island and watch the world burn. I can barely see for the tears. I’m scared, because I’m little and they’re big, and part of me knows I can’t win. But I can’t not fight, either. This blog has become too important to me. It’s helped me so much, and I know it’s helped other people. I can’t sit in silence while people who are not disabled like we are presume to make decisions for us. 

Because that’s happening every day and it’s hurting so many people. Even when I’m silent, even when I can’t cope, I watch. I see the things all of you talk about, the way you’re treated, how you fight and fight and people won’t listen and this…this was a chance for the truth to be heard, from our own mouths and our own fingers, and they don’t care. So I have to speak. I have to speak for all of us who have been abused, who have been killed. I have to speak because if I don’t, there’s no way to stop this cycle.

Help me tell them to stop the cycle. Please, I’m begging you, help me tell them that solidarity is not just for neurotypical people. That we are done letting other people speak for us. Please.


Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts. Obviously. 

Maybe you’re one of the millions of people who have watched the misleading video about Planned Parenthood. Rebecca Watson breaks down the reality: “It’s weird for those of us with two brain cells to rub together, that this is even a thing. Because first of all, obviously Planned Parenthood doesn’t sell BABY PARTS. Jesus fucking christ, get a hold of yourselves. Baby parts! 3% of all Planned Parenthood’s activities are abortions, and more than 90% of those are in the first trimester when it’s about size of a kidney bean, so they do see some pieces of fetal tissue. Which are just going to be thrown away in the garbage, but which the patient can instead choose to donate to important medical research.”

Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

And then I made the grave mistake of responding to a fellow skeptic’s YouTube video in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM). I replied to say that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much more damaging than male circumcision.

The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:

“honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could”

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.

Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism

I don’t normally use my blog to promote other people’s videos, but this is an important one. 

“Don’t Feed the Trolls!”

What you think it means: Just don’t reply to people or publicize their insults and they’ll go away! All they want is attention.

What it actually means: Suffer in silence. Read those emails about what a fucking cunt you are and then quietly delete them. Go lay in bed and cry until you don’t necessarily feel better but can at least pretend like you feel better so that we can all continue our lives blissfully ignorant of anything bad ever happening. The abuse will continue to come, because they don’t want attention – they are bullies. They want power over you. They want your silence, and they got it.

Really, read the whole thing: 

Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement?

The continuing debate over a murky sexual encounter at a 2008 convention for cheekily anti-establishment skeptics underscores a broader dilemma: How can a progressive, important intellectual community behave so poorly towards its female peers?
How a merch dispute at Dragon Con netted an alleged rapist $6,000

When popular blogger and Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson was banned from selling merchandise at Dragon Con, emotions ran high.

I’m redoing my link to today’s article because as convoluted, hard to follow, and messy as this story is, it’s an important story. And for anyone in fandom, it tells you all you need to know about the Reddit-based corner of the Internet that carries heavy overlap with science fiction fandom and other facets of geek culture.

To recap: because Rebecca Watson got hit on at 4am in an elevator in 2011, and because she talked about how uncomfortable it made her, the Skeptics community has consistently demonized her, along with any other feminist and intersectional voices within the community. The community members have essentially made hatred of feminist-friendly websites into a meme, much like the men’s rights movement. And now, after Skepchicks were asked to stop selling inappropriate merchandise at Dragon Con this weekend, Skeptics have poured their rage at Watson & co into a legal “defense” fund for an accused serial rapist.

This is so far beyond the pale of the misogyny I’m used to seeing in any other Internet community. And it’s coming from a community that prides themselves on being laidback, unemotional, objective, and rational.

Also, one of the most respected Skeptrack speakers at last year’s Dragon Con is currently accused of committing sexual assault against an attendee at a skeptics con last year.

So, uh. There’s that.
Rebecca Watson on Jezebel's new sex advice column

Do you have sexy questions but you don’t have access to Google, a therapist, or a close friend who isn’t a complete shithead? Send them in to Jezebel’s new sexpert, Karley Sciortino – AKA “Slutever”! The edgy name should give you a hint about the edgy content in store for you. If you’re lucky, she might not suggest you sexually assault someone!

In the first edition of “Slutever,” someone writes in concerned that facials (the kind with semen, not the kind at the spa, unless you go to one of those spas) are too degrading for women to participate in. Obviously this is a complex issue involving degradation, objectification, power dynamics, and OH JUST KIDDING you guys, don’t think about the implications of sex acts! Thinking ruins all the fun! If an act seems degrading but you like it, it’s best to just push all your negative feelings deep down inside yourself and pack it into a hard ball of self-loathing that sits inside your stomach forever:

I understand there are complex emotions involved in sex, so everything isn’t always black and white, but I also think that sometimes girls’ brains become so clouded by bullshit “feminist” ideals — “thou shall not be treated like an object,” “thou shall always be offended by men’s pervy remarks” (as if we are not equally adept at dismissing them, and dishing them out) — that we spoil our own fun.

Oh man, remember how much fun sex was before those “feminists” came along and ruined it with all their talk of a woman’s right to be seen as a real human being instead of a convenient hole? Oh, and that dumb “feminist” idea that it’s not cool for strange men to shout sexual come-ons at us on the street? It’s totally cool, ladies! We have the ultimate power of dismissal. Psh. “Feminism.”

(The “suggest you sexually assault someone” comes later in the article when the Jezebel writer tells a woman who wrote in to “never give up” on trying to stick her finger up her boyfriend’s ass during oral, even if she has already tried it and been shot down multiple times.)

I Did a Couple of Interviews This Week!

In case you want to hear me talk and talk, even more than I usually talk, I did two interviews with awesome gals this week! Topics discussed: How to become a professional writer, how to deal with internet trolls, how to develop your voice, how to not be a dick.

First, with Heina Dadabhoy for Skepchick:

I’ve gotten people who accuse me of things that are so off-base that they don’t upset me at all, they just confuse me. Is there anything you’ve been accused of doing or being that is so left-of-field that it has totally befuddled you?

One thing I (and any fat woman who writes about body positivity) get all the time is furious men whining about how I’m trying to “force” them to find fat women attractive. Settle down, boys! Don’t even worry about it! We will NEVER, EVER HAVE SEX. I’m already engaged to the world’s greatest dude who’s hotter and funnier than you AND thinks of women as human beings. So.

(Full interview HERE.)

And then with Hannah at The Pulp Zine:

Can you give me a little background on your career?

I graduated from Occidental College in 2004 with an ECLS degree (English and Comparative Literary Studies) and didn’t really have any ideas about what I wanted to do. Nothing had ever struck me, like, THIS IS MY THING. I studied English because I’ve always been an obsessive reader, but I never thought I was qualified to be a writer–someone who’s an authoritative voice, who builds beautiful worlds from scratch. I didn’t think I was driven or creative or interesting enough, I guess. So, after college, I wound up back in Seattle working as a cashier at the same place that had been my summer job. It was pretty demoralizing to realize that I was in exactly the same position I’d been before I worked my way through four years of higher education. At a certain point, it was time to take a leap…

(Full interview HERE.)

Also, I’ll be giving a talk–a Feminist’s Guide to Surviving the Internet–next week at the Women in Secularism Conference! More info HERE.

I’ll never truly respect Rebecca Watson because she stole my artwork and sold it on merch on her website years ago. Honest, respectable people don’t do that. I confronted her and she only responded when I waived the lawsuit flag, she promised to donate the money she made from my art to a charity of my choice which she did- a whopping $15 - but she never provided proof of how much she actually made off of the art. Also, the whole elevator-gate thing was a huge embarrassment. Being a woman with a larger chest, I get proposals and lewd comments often from men in public & a guy you are having an interesting conversation with asking you to his room to talk MORE over coffee isn’t inappropriate unless YOU make it that way. He didn’t say “coffee, wink wink nudge nudge” he said coffee you conceited fuck.

Random rant brought to you by her popping up in my sidebar on twitter today >.<
The Female Athlete Triad: Not As Fun As it Sounds

Content notice: eating disorders. â&#128;&#156;Have you ever heard of the Female Athlete Triad?â&#128;&#157; I know what my new doctorâ&#128;&#153;s about to say as soon as I hear the words â&#128;&#156;female athlete.â&#128;&#157; Having struggled with the…

I think this is important for any female athlete to read, regardless of your sport


Thunderf00t on Rebecca Watson’s tiny brain

I am an Atheist, not an Atheistette

I usually don’t get involved in other people’s personal battles. It’s one of those general rules that I live my life by, and it serves me pretty well.

Unfortunately I’ve also never been very good at accepting anyone else as my self-appointed spokesman, and that includes the Skepchicks Rebecca Watson, and Surly Amy, who as of late have taken it upon themselves to speak for the community of atheist and skeptics who just so happen to be female.

I certainly don’t have the audience that they have, but the time has come for me to break my silence all the same. I get that Watson didn’t really like it when she was asked for coffee (even if it really meant for sex) in the elevator at 4 am, and she certainly does have every right not to want coffee (or sex) with the guy who asked. No problem there. Where she lost me was at this:

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Just a word to the wise here, guys. Don’t do that.

Adding ‘to me’ to the end of that sentence would have done a world of good, because then it would be clear that Rebecca Watson was speaking only for herself, and not as the self-appointed spokesman (and yes, my choice of term was deliberate) for all women. but she didn’t. Instead, she gave advice to all men on behalf of all women based upon what she herself dislikes, and what should’ve been a simple over-and-done conversation between one man and one woman became a political battle of skeptics and atheists that has raged on and on.

Assumptions were made, lines were drawn, and suddenly the question of whether or not women are made to feel unsafe at atheist and skeptic conventions started to become almost as big as the atheism and skepticism the conventions are about in the first place.

A year later, Dr. Harriet Hall wears a t-shirt to TAM that apparently upset Amy Roth enough that she changed her flight and left the convention early. A lot of attention has been paid to the message on the back of the t-shirt, and a lot of people have criticized Dr. Hall for having worn it as if she had committed some unspeakable evil in those simple words.

I’m a skeptic

Not a 'skepchick’

Not a 'woman skeptic’

Just a skeptic

Generally when I find myself in disagreement with someone over things like this, it’s with someone who doesn’t work in a predominately male field, but has made a career out of telling those of us who do what it’s like for us on a daily basis.

Rebecca Watson and Surly Amy Roth certainly fit the bill. Having variably-colored hair and writing a blog does not make a person an expert on life in the techy-geek world, but living in it does, and that is where I’ve lived for all my life thus far (and where I will live the rest of it).

For over thirty years, I have rebelled against the idea that I was a female geek, a nerdette, an engineerchick, a woman atheist. I have always believed that whatever I am does not need a modifier attached to it to remind the world that I am female. I am not special, different, or other than anyone else in my field. At the age of three I learned to read the TI BASIC manual that came with my brand new computer, and more than thirty years later I have never been told I was an outsider with more conviction than when I discussed my interests with self-styled feminists.

I’ve never felt threatened being the only chick in the room, or in an elevator with a guy who asked me in far more blunt terms than what was said to Rebecca Watson to come up to his room for a fuck, but I don’t presume to tell her that my eyes are the ones she should see the world through, or that my response is the only correct one. After all, I’ve always found it easy to be confident. It may have something to do with my capacity for self defense:

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Or it may just be that some unexplainable but innate part of my psyche colored my glasses differently than Rebecca Watson and Surly Amy Roth’s.

Either way, I promise not to appoint myself the spokesman for all women everywhere, and I hope only that the Skepchicks can manage to respect me enough to do the same.


Heroines in Young Adult Literature

The Heroines in Young Adult Literature panel at SkepchickCon 2013, the science and skepticism track of CONvergence, a sci-fi/fantasy conference held every summer in Minneapolis.

Panelists: Michael Levy, Kathy Sullivan, Joan Sullivan, Jody Wurl, and Ashley F. Miller

More info on SkepchickCon:
More info on CONvergence:

Duration: 59:34

via Skepchicks.

Is Richard Dawkins a Sexist?

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Sometimes, when trying to argue a point, people become so entrenched in their view that a petty war can break out over the tiniest offense. We published an article this morning which attempted to call out both sides for their wrong doings, but as everything else in our life, it was a miserable failure. Why? Because it did not address the key issue at hand–is this issue as large as some would have you believe. I want to make this point very clear. Richard Dawkins made an incredibly insensitive statement which forced others to question is credibility. Was he wrong about what he said? Not exactly. The problem does seem trivial. We will not deny that sexism is a problem in the United states or other Western nations, but Dawkins was correct in stating that our problems are often trivial compared to what women in other nations face. But, he was still wrong. He had no right to make the statement. He had no reason to make it. Regardless, the past cannot be undone. He made it…and a lot of people are pissed off about it. At this point we can only ask ourselves one question:

Is Richard Dawkins a sexist?

Many different definitions of a sexist exist, much  dependent on the definition of feminism. Both of which hold little bearing on the true focus of this question. At its root a sexist act is one that discriminates based on gender. the actions of Dawkins simply fail this test. His statement… [Continue Reading]

“[Y}es, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!”

“[T]o have my concerns – and more so the concerns of other women who have survived rape and sexual assault – dismissed thanks to a rich white man comparing them to the plight of women who are mutilated, is insulting to all of us [women]."